Tag Archives: wine

St Emilion

Just to the north east of Bordeaux is a small, World Heritage listed, vineyard town perched on the side of a steep hill.  The history of the town dates back to before the second century, when the Romans planted vineyards on the site.

 

Sant Emilion is named after the monk who settled in a hermitage carved into the rock, in the 8th century. The monks that followed him established commercial wine production in the area and Sant Emilion is now one of the major red wine regions of Bordeaux.

We spent a full day in the town wandering around the delightful, cobblestone streets, narrow stairways and unique buildings that give the its character.  Wherever you go in the town you can see and feel the history and importance of wine in the region.

We visited one of the many cellars in the town, Maison Galhaud, a family owned vineyard based in a 12th century home. The Galhaud caves (cellars), beneath the family home are in an 18th century quarry, part of which was once a 12th century well for the house.  The third generation owner gave us a personal tour of the caves.  After sampling some of the wine we came away with a couple of bottles of a very nice 2008 red to help us celebrate the upcoming festive season.

We had a very relaxed (and relatively inexpensive) lunch at La Bouchon, one of the many restaurants in the town – accompanied of course by a couple of glasses of the very good local wines.

The afternoon was spent making the most of the last of the late afternoon winter sunshine, wandering around and taking photos to try to capture the magic of the town.

Bordeaux

The city of Bordeaux is not just the capital of a major French wine region, it is a city of World Heritage areas and buildings and has an enormous character.

Bordeaux’s city architecture has been largely unchanged for some time and has recently undergone a restoration and refurbishment project, which provided a vibrant area along the quays of the Garonne River. A walk along the riverfront is not to be missed with the classical architecture shown to advantage by innovations such as a specially designed fountain adjacent to the Place de la Bourse, which provides photographers with  a mirror reflection of the buildings in the resulting pool.

Along the river bank we also saw several Ragondins (a large water mammal related to the beaver) and some small water rats. The Ragondins in particular were unfazed by the proximity of the pedestrians and came quite close to the boardwalk for the scraps fed to them by the locals.

Like many French cities, Bordeaux has several very large churches all of which are interesting in their own way – although sometimes the smaller (non-heritage) churches prove to be the most interesting.

Bordeaux also has several areas of open markets and many kilometres of pedestrian only shopping areas. One of these streets, the Rue Saint-Catherine, which starts at the Place de la Victoire and ends near the Grand Theatre, is one of the longest shopping malls in Europe.

There are also numerous cafes, restaurants and squares to relax and enjoy the local produce. All in all the city that has a lot to offer.